Publish Date: Oct 18, 2012
We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Common-Prayer-Biography-Religious/dp/0691154813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417814005&sr=8-1&keywords=jacobs+book+of+common+prayer. January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-English-Reformation-1489-1556/dp/1592448658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420055574&sr=8-1&keywords=A.F.+Pollard+Cranmer. February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-Jasper-Ridley/dp/0198212879/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422892154&sr=8-1&keywords=jasper+ridley+cranmer&pebp=1422892151110&peasin=198212879
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Publish Date: Oct 18, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
The Episcopal/Anglican Province of Jerusalem & the Middle East
The Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
PRAY FOR EGYPT
24 November 2012
I am so grateful for the messages and assurance of prayers which I have recently received. The situation is not easy, and no-one can predict what is going to happen.
There is obviously agitation within Egypt after President Mursi produced a Constitutional Declaration on Thursday the 22nd of November. This declaration removed the Chief Prosecutor, who was appointed by Mubarak, without consulting the Supreme Judicial Council. Also, the declaration gave absolute power to the President’s decisions. It states that his decisions are "final and unchallengeable by any individual or body until a new constitution has been ratified and a new parliament has been elected.” The Supreme Judicial Council described the declaration as "an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings.”
People gathered yesterday (Friday) at Tahrir Square and other places and cities in protest. They called it the ‘Friday of Anger.’ At the same time, Islamists surrounded the Presidential Palace in support of the President. Some clashes happened between the two groups. It is sad to see this division between the Egyptian people. There are people who continue to demonstrate and a major demonstration is planned for Tuesday.
A few days ago, the churches in Egypt alongside some liberal parties, withdrew their representatives in the committee responsible for writing the new constitution. This was an act of protest, because the majority of the committee are Islamists who want to impose their own views in the constitution. As we dream for real democracy, it was my hope, with many other Egyptians, to have a constitution that is inclusive of all Egyptians. It is very sad because it is now almost two years since the start of the revolution, and we are still longing for stability, democracy, and the opportunity to rebuild Egypt.
Do pray for Egypt.
May the Lord bless you!
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Shannon
My mistake was in thinking that her being done with me and her home going would coincide. She is gone, but she is not done with me. She is still teaching me in her absence. She is teaching me how to deal with pain. Shannon’s seizures were not demure affairs. She fell to the ground. Her legs shook violently. Her upper body jerked back and forth. Her breathing became noisy and labored, and fruitless as her skin would begin to turn blue from lack of oxygen. It might last thirty seconds. It might last ten minutes. When it ended, however, it ended always the same- with deep, unshakable sleep. Immediately after being terrorized by her own body being utterly out of her control, immediately after the electrical waves in her brain became a violent thunderstorm, immediately after not being able to breath, she did not look to me for an explanation. She didn’t look in panic for a place of stability and sanity. Wherever she was, she just slept.
My home was convulsed nearly a year ago when my bride, the love of my life, went on to her reward. It was convulsed again six weeks ago when Shannon went on to join her. And I can’t sleep. For months the routine of caring for my wife was my sanity. For the months after she was gone, the habits of caring for my daughter were my sanity. Now they are both gone. And I have lessons to learn.
For Denise I could be grateful that she went on to a better world, that she would no longer suffer. For Shannon, ironically, I’m not so sure. Oh I am quite confident she is in the arms of her Lord. I’m certain she will have no more seizures. But the thing is, Shannon never felt the weight of her weaknesses. And Shannon had a faith that saw through the veil. She lived on earth as if it were heaven. She was so full of love, joyful, peaceful, so filled with patience and kindness, so good, so faithful, so gentle and so self-controlled that she bloomed, bore fruit in God’s own garden. When she woke up able to walk and speak, when she woke to feel our Lord’s hand on her head, it was no great change for her. She always felt His hand upon her. She always beheld His glory. The gap for Shannon between earth and heaven was just one small, unsteady step.
Which is just the lesson I need to learn. Neither my wife nor my daughter, though they are now a higher order of being, having been glorified, are far from me. My Lord is not with them in some distant dimension. Instead I am there with them, seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). I have been lifted up by His grace. Because He is with me, I make my bed not in Sheol, but in paradise. For wherever He is, there is my treasure. I will lay down and rest, for so He gives His beloved sleep (Psalm 127). And Shannon watches, to see if I breathe, as we both look forward to that day when I finally wake.
I pray you will take the time to watch the sermon I was blessed to preach at Shannon’s memorial service. My hope was to preach the grace of God in her life, and the grace of God through her in my life
Evangelical supporters of women bishops are "liberals in disguise"
1. All sides agree that the church will have women bishops at some point, whether they like this or not.
2. All sides also agree that provision will have to be made for those who cannot accept women bishops.
The disagreement is not about either of those things but about the nature and extent of the provision to be made. Basically, is it to be decided by the (essentially unsympathetic) majority, which will then impose its solution on a reluctant minority, or will the minority be allowed to determine what it needs in order to feel safe and get the majority to accept that? What has happened so far is that the majority has tried to impose its own will on the minority, which has protested loud and long but been ignored because the majority thought that it was big enough to get its way. This belief has proved to be wrong - hence the lost vote.
Unfortunately, rather than accept that it was wrong and change its approach, the majority has so far retreated into a massive sulk that in some cases has become bitter and hateful towards the minority. If this continues, there will be no solution because the minority will not submit to something that it believes to be unfair.
What we must hope for is a statesmanlike approach from the leaders of the majority who recognize that they have gone wrong, offer the minority most (if not all) of what it wants and accept that compromise, however painful for some, is inevitable. Will this happen? I don't know, but it is surely what all Christians ought to be praying for.
Let me attempt to provide this for those who are not familiar with the English scene or who are out of touch with recent developments.
The General Synod consists of three houses - bishops, clergy and laity. The bishops are there ex officio, so they are the most representative, but since virtually all bishops are from the liberal centre of the church, the conservative wings (Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical) are left out. At the present time there are only two definitely conservative Anglo-Catholic bishops (Chichester and London) and no Evangelicals at all. There have been many protests about this, and even an independent report (known as the Pilling Report after Sir Joseph Pilling who chaired it) that has criticized this situation and called for a remedy, but so far no action has been taken. The bishops have achieved homogeneity but at the cost of credibility - nobody in the conservative parts of the church trusts them.
The house of clergy is elected by the diocesan clergy but it also includes a number of chaplains (university, army etc.) and other oddities. It ought to be the most representative of the houses, and in a way it is, but the trouble with it is that the best clergy tend to be so busy in their parishes (and uninterested in church politics) that they do not stand for election and the places go to politically-minded types who would rather sit on committees than do the work of a minister. As a result, they are a disaster waiting to happen and an embarrassment, especially when they start pronouncing on subjects they know little or nothing about - like theology.
The house of laity consists of lay people elected by the dioceses. The process of election is complicated. Anyone can propose people for election, but the voting list is restricted to those who are already on diocesan and deanery synods. The ordinary people in the pews do not get a vote. As a result, the lay representatives tend to be highly committed individuals with time on their hands - retired people, self-employed people and housewives with tolerant husbands mostly. Some of them are well-educated and among the best synod members, while others hardly know what is going on and tend to respond to emotional appeals of one kind or another.
Back in 1992 the General Synod voted to allow the ordination of women (which began in February 1994) but only by a majority of two votes in the house of laity. The trade-off was that those who could not accept this were protected by an Act of Synod that gave them separate bishops (the so-called Provincial Episcopal Visitors, or 'flying' bishops) who are directly under the two archbishops and who can minister to any parish or clergyman who requests them. It is also possible for ministerial candidates opposed to the ordination of women to be ordained in separate ceremonies.
On the whole, the Act of Synod has worked quite well, but there are problems. Some of those in favour of women clergy and bishops have always resented it and have formed an organization called the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod (GRAS) which campaigns for all tolerance accorded to the dissenting minority to be struck down.
Needless to say, the very existence of this group is an insult and a threat to those who make use of the flying bishops and the other provisions, and they have probably done more to stiffen opposition to themselves than anything else.
There is also the fact that most bishops and dioceses do not like to be bothered having to make special arrangements for what they see as the awkward minority, and so they put pressure on conservatives to conform for the sake of 'unity'. Those who resist this pressure are marked out for discrimination and some of them have been refused jobs in certain dioceses.
In fairness, I think that the problem is more bureaucratic than theological. Church administrators, including many bishops, have no theology of their own and cannot understand why anyone else does, or at least, why they would let it interfere with the practicalities of everyday life. Making special arrangements for perceived nutters is uncongenial and they try their best not to have to do it.
Another problem is that there are no Evangelical flying bishops. One of the main reasons for that is that back in 1992 the Evangelical bishops of the time all voted for women's ordination and then claimed that it was not an Evangelical issue. In other words, Evangelicals did not care about it one way or the other. Many Evangelical organisations protested and petitioned for Evangelical flying bishops, but they have always been refused.
This is a Catch-22 situation for Evangelicals. Most of them see no reason to desert their current bishops for an Anglo-Catholic one, merely over the women's issue. But if an Evangelical one were to be appointed, they would flock to him in droves - not so much because of the women's thing as because he would be a fellow Evangelical.
What this would mean is that most of the large and wealthy parishes would desert their dioceses, taking their money and resources with them. The bishops know this of course, and so they resist the Evangelical requests for flying bishops of their own. (If there is any still innocent person reading this post, THE CHURCH RUNS ON MONEY ALONE AND HAS DONE SO SINCE JUDAS GOT THOSE 30 PIECES OF SILVER. IT WAS MONEY THAT CRUCIFIED JESUS AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT.)
One side-effect of all this is that whereas twenty or thirty years ago most Evangelical organisations contained a mixture of people for and against women's ordination, battle lines have now hardened. Today, an Evangelical who claims to be an 'egalitarian' in such matters is simply a liberal in disguise.
Anyone who doubts this need only look at the Fulcrum Anglican website. Fulcrum is a tiny pressure group that exists only in the blogosphere but claims to represent the 'Evangelical centre', for which read 'slightly right-wing liberal'. (It is officially against gay marriage but in favour of 'dialogue' - you get the picture.)
Evangelicals cannot be defined by the women's issue, which remains secondary to their chief interests (evangelism, mission, teaching the Bible and other things that the rest of the church only talks about once in a while), but after the most recent events I would be surprised if anyone who supports women bishops would be welcome in most Evangelical circles. As happened before, the extremism of those people is alienating the Evangelical constituency and causing the latter to close ranks against them.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Chinese Calvinism flourishes
His followers now form the third-largest Christian grouping in the world. The world alliance of reformed churches claims 75 million members, and while this is a lower headline figure than the Anglican Communion's 80 million, it is not inflated by 25 million nominal Anglicans in Britain.
Although Calvinism is shrinking in western Europe and North America, it is experiencing an extraordinary success in China. I spent some time on Monday talking to the Rev May Tan, from Singapore, where the overseas Chinese community has close links with mainland China. The story she told of the spread of Calvinist religion as an elite religion in China was quite extraordinary. There may be some parallels with the growth of Calvinism in South Korea, where the biggest presbyterian churches in the world are to be found, but it's absolutely unlike the pattern in Africa and Latin America. There, the fastest growing forms of Christianity are pentecostal, and they are spreading among the poor.
But in China neither of those things are to be true.
Calvinists despise pentecostalists. They shudder at unbridled emotion. If they are slain in the spirit, it is with a single, decorous thump: there's to be no rolling afterwards. And in China, the place where Calvinism is spreading fastest is the elite universities, fuelled by prodigies of learning and translation. Wang Xiaochao, a philosopher at one of the Beijing universities, has translated the two major works of St Augustine, the Confessions and the City of God, into Chinese directly from Latin. Gradually all the major works of the first centuries of the Christian tradition are being translated directly from the original languages into Chinese.
All of this is happening outside the control of the official body which is supposed to monitor and supervise the churches in China. Instead, it is the philosophy departments at the universities, or the language departments and the departments of literature and western civilisation that are the channel.
"The [officially recognised] churches are not happy with universities, because it is not within their control. And their seminaries are not at the intellectual level of the universities," says Dr Tan. "Chinese Christianity using Chinese to do Christian thinking has become a very interesting movement."
Many of the missionaries who tried to bring Christianity to China before the communists took over where presbyterians, and other sorts of Calvinist. But that does not explain why Calvinism should be the preferred theology of the house churches and the intellectuals now. Dr Tan suggests that this is because it is Protestant: that is to say it can be made much more convincingly native than Roman Catholicism, since presbyterian congregations choose their own pastors. This is, I suspect, enormously important at a time when China is recovering from a century and a half of being the victim of western powers; the pope's insistence on appointing Catholic bishops is unacceptable to the government and perhaps to the people too.
If she goes to preach at an official church, she says, "There will be perhaps 1000 people and 95% of them are over 65. So it's a sunset church. But if I went to house church – there would be 1000 people; perhaps 20 of them in their 50s, and all the rest are youngsters. The older ones will all be professors at the universities. So these are the future of the churches. They have registered pastors, and no access to seminaries: But they have youth, and future, and money."
Calvinism isn't a religion of subservience to any government. The great national myths of Calvinist cultures are all of wars against imperialist oppressors: the Dutch against the Spanish, the Scots against the English; the Americans against the British. So when the Chinese house churches first emerged from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution in the 80s and 90s "They began to search what theology will support and inform [them]. They read Luther and said, 'not him'. So they read Calvin, and they said 'him, because he has a theology of resistance.' Luther can't teach them or inform them how to deal with a government that is opposition."
And, though the communists stigmatised Christianity as a foreign religion, they also and still more thoroughly smashed up the traditional religions of China: "The communist, socialist critique of traditional religion, and of Confucianism has been effective", she says: "The youngsters think it is very cool to be Christian. Communism has removed all the obstacles for them to come to Christianity."
The most conservative estimates of the new converts to Christianity is 500,000; there is a new church built every month. Calvinist Christianity has a culture of phenomenal industry. Calvin himself, in his time in Geneva, preached every day and twice on Sundays: shorthand writers at the foot of his pulpit took down 108 volumes of his sermons, though most of these have been lost and his reputation rests on the books and pamphlets that he wrote himself. In China now, this kind of Christianity is seen as forward-looking, rational, intellectually serious, and favourable to making money.
"Very soon", said Dr Tan, "Christians will become the majority of university students … that could happen."
It would be astonishing if China were to become a great power in the Christian world, as well as in the economic one. But things just as strange have happened in the past. Who could have foreseen, when Augustine was writing those huge books now translated into Chinese, that barbarous Europe would become the centre of Christian civilisation, and his homeland in North Africa would become entirely Muslim?
Calls to silence Lord Carey
On 26 Oct 2012 the Kings College London Student Union released a statement saying it was offended by Lord Carey’s remarks on marriage in a talk given at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference. Lord Carey told the meeting at Birmingham Town Hall that re-defining marriage would “strike at the very fabric of society”.
“Let’s have a sensible debate about this, not call people names,” he said on 8 Oct 2012. “Let’s remember that the Jews in Nazi Germany, what started it all against them was when they started being called names. That was the first stage towards that totalitarian state.”
However, the former Archbishop’s restatement of Christian doctrine and teaching on marriage and sexuality was “outdated, hurtful and offensive” the student union said. In the name of “diversity” they demanded he be silenced.
“We are proud of our diverse and inclusive community and would never seek to promote the outright censorship of ideas. But we believe that the images of alumni on the Strand campus are there to represent King’s College London. In light of these comments, we believe by continuing to display an image of Lord Carey, the College are losing sight of the reason why these individuals are displayed on the front of our university,” the statement said.
They called upon the university to be “bold” and make an example of Lord Carey for his remarks which had “exposed our students to a great deal of distress and upset, particularly our LGBT community. Until now, King’s has a proud history of supporting gay students.”
The college administration, however, was not swayed by the pleas to punish Lord Carey. A university spokesman said it would not be removing the portrait. “We explicitly reject the notion of any censorship of ideas. Lord Carey’s views are his own and were offered as part of an open debate,” the spokesman said.
Keeping the archbishop’s photo on display was a mark of the university’s “diverse and inclusive community,” the spokesman added.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
It can be accessed and saved as a pdf.file. http://archive.org/details/wycliffehistoric00haguuoft
Dyson Hague, MA, was the Rector of Memorial Church, London, ONT and Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, London, ONT.
Here is St. Paul's Cathedral, London, ONT, about 60 miles from the Veitch farm (Great Grandparents, Aliston, ONT...Canadian Anglicans also). About 120 miles from where your's truly was born.
This little handbook by Dyson Hague is a wonderful little work on Wycliffe. Clear, succinct, well-researched.
Wycliffe was and is a man whose thought blows with new freshness on the themes of our time, e.g. the book of Romans for starters...a magisterial Epistle for those for whom, among whom and to whom St. Paul's theology still matters. A necessary epistle for mastery for the young (and the older by way of reminder since they should have already mastered it) Churchmen.
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